Group Dynamics in Twelve Angry Men
The movie “12 Angry Men” is a fascinating and insightful examination of a diverse group of twelve jurors who are uncomfortably brought together to deliberate the “facts” of a seemingly open-and-shut murder trial. The premise is the trial of a frightened, teenaged defendant accused of stabbing and killing his father. However, there is an underlying sense that the jurors, themselves, and the American judicial system, are on trial as well. The trial by jury system is supposed to produce a unanimous decision in an objective, fair and unbiased manner.
This film takes more than a glimpse behind the closed doors of a jury room and reveals that it”s anything but what we would expect. So, what went wrong? In order to answer that question, we must examine the twelve jurors and their personalities, their ability – and often inability – to communicate clearly, and the positive and negative aspects of their conflict management processes. The jurors are a group of predominately middle-aged white males. That”s about where the similarities end.
Their personalities, prejudices, weaknesses, socio-economic and cultural differences, priorities, ignorance, and fears often cause them to avoid the true issues of the case. The foreman of the jury (Juror #1) is an assistant high school football coach but lacks any natural leadership skills. Throughout the proceedings, he tries to keep the proceedings formal but is easily frustrated and sensitive when his “authority” or control is threatened. Juror #2 is a meek and mild bank teller who seems to try to avoid conflict at all costs. Juror #3 runs a messenger service and is a rude bully.
He is extremely opinionated and biased, loud-mouthed, intolerant and temperamental. Although defiant to the end, it”s later discovered that his own personal conflicts greatly influence his behavior. Juror #4 is a stockbroker. He”s very logical, self-assured, and rational. It”s apparent early in the movie that he has an amazing recall about the evidence introduced in the case and has kept meticulous notes. Juror #5 is a reserved and quiet man. He is apparently ashamed of his slum-dwelling upbringing and hesitant at first to speak up. It”s possible that he has a Hipic heritage, but this is only speculation.
Juror #6 is a blue-collar painter. A natural follower, he seems to have difficulty in making his own decisions. He”s intolerant of disrespect towards the older juror. Juror #7 is a salesman whose main interest is getting to a baseball game that he has tickets for. He lacks any compassion or concern for the defendant”s life. Juror #8 is a patient and thoughtful architect. A natural leader, he often persuades others through his calm logical reasoning. He is focused on the gravity of the case and is able to separate others personal prejudices from the task at hand. Juror #9 is the eldest man in the group.
He”s at the twilight of his life and has uncanny powers of observation and perception. Juror #10 is an intolerant, racist, and angry man. He uses no logical reasoning skills and tries to force his emotional and bitter opinions on others. Juror #11 is a recent immigrant to the United States. He is well spoken and has a much deeper respect for the American judicial system than the rest of the group. He is polite and occasionally clever, but also resolute and open-minded. Juror #12 is a superficial advertising man. He seemingly lacks any real convictions about anything as evidenced by his constant swaying to others opinions.
These men all have obvious strengths and weaknesses. And, they each have their different and unique individual life experiences and attitudes. But it”s precisely those differences that affect how they are able to interact with each other (although often ineffectively) to work through the task that”s been given to them. Further, the only way to convey those differences, those things that are important or unimportant to them, is through communication. As is often the case, how we communicate with others determines the results that we achieve. If we communicate effectively, others can easily grasp our ideas and intentions.
If, however, we utilize poor communications skills, our true objectives become confusing, misinterpreted, or lost altogether. Twelve Angry Men gives excellent examples of both clear, concise, and reasonable communication skills as well as inadequate, appalling, and exasperating ones. Henry Fonda (Juror #8) was far and away the most effective communicator of this group. Perhaps this is why he was able to eventually achieve the unlikely feat of swaying the other eleven jurors. After the initial vote was taken, the emotionally charged group immediately became insolent.
Fonda was able to not only convey his intentions of not emotionally pre-judging the young defendant, but did so in such a way that was not directly confrontational. He openly admits that he doesn”t necessarily believe the boys story, but tries to refocus the group towards the legal standards set forth by the judge. He suggests that the group spend just one hour discussing the case and weighing the facts, rather than sending the boy off to die without at least some thought. Throughout the movie Fonda is able to argue and counter-argue his doubts with a rational, thoughtful cool-headedness that made it difficult for the other jurors to deny.
Juror #4 (E. G. Marshall) was also an effective communicator. His arguments for guilt were clear, concise, and matter-of-fact. However, he often presented arguments in a smug, conceited manner. I think it was only Fonda”s appeal to his logical side that eventually won Juror #4 over. On the other side of the coin, it was the total lack of communication skills that seriously hampered the arguments of Juror #”s 3 and 10. Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) was abrasive and blustery. He was a bully in the worst sense of the word. He had no rational arguments of his own, and tried to use others as a springboard for his emotional personal attacks.
He obviously felt very strongly about the boys guilt, (albeit for the wrong reasons), but was never able to forward any coherent reasoning to express that. Instead he used insults, assaults and threats to make up for his lack of coherent discussion. Juror #10 was just plain offensive. He was not capable of issuing any arguments, only violent outbursts of ignorant prejudice. It was precisely these types of communication and personality types that served to most influence the group”s dynamics throughout the movie. Even though the initial vote was 11-1 for guilty, it can be contended that the group was possibly more divided.
Six of the jurors, (Juror #”s 1, 3, 4, 7, 10, and 12), raised their hands for a guilty verdict almost immediately. Yet, five of the remaining six (Juror #”s 2, 5, 6, 11, and 9) were initially hesitant with their vote. They raised their hands only after seeing how quickly the others raised theirs. This is what Forsyth (1999) probably would have called compliance, “Compliance occurs when group members privately disagree with the group, but publicly express an opinion that matches the opinions expressed by the majority of the group” (179).
This assumption could be reinforced by the order in which the jurors changed their votes. The five jurors originally hesitant were the first ones to switch their votes to not guilty as the meeting progressed. The foreman”s inability to lead effectively was another major component of the group”s dynamics in this case. Juror #1″s deficiency caused the group to be more responsive to Juror #8″s natural leadership skills. The acceptance of Juror #8″s leadership facilitated the unlikely transition of the group from a guilty verdict to one of not guilty.
Forsyth (1999) explains, “In general, the greater the perceived competency and group-centered motivation of the individual, the more influential the minority” (185). Juror #8 gained idiosyncrasy credits with the group as the meeting progressed and slowly developed his credibility. “These credits accumulate during the course of interaction, typically as a member contributes to the progress of the group toward desired goals” (Forsyth, 1999, p. 186). Twelve Angry Men is a movie about conflict and conflict resolution. When Juror #8 raises his hand to cast the only not guilty vote he throws the group into conflict.
But, it is this same conflict that enables the group to intelligently complete their task. According to Forsyth (1999), “Exposure to others” positions, in addition to providing additional information and prompting a more thorough analysis of that information, can also cause group members to reinterpret, or cognitively restructure, key aspects of the issue” (191). After the initial vote, tempers flared, votes changed, divisions were created, emotions were exhibited, and prejudices were displayed.
Throughout the rest of the movie though, the group, perhaps unconsciously, moved towards conflict resolution. Persuasion gives way to arguing, emotions take place of logic, and the once unified group splits into factions and coalitions. This period of conflict escalation is, in most cases, followed by a reduction in conflict and, ideally, conflict resolution” (Forsyth, 1999, p. 237). “Insofar as conflict is resolved successfully, it has stabilizing functions and becomes an integrating component of the group relationship” (Forsyth, 1999), p. 263). These twelve jurors began with conflict, proceeded through often-heated conflict escalation, and eventually came to resolution.
They may not have bonded emotionally together, but they were able to produce the best results with the tools they were given. It can”t be said for sure if the experience would have changed their attitudes permanently, but it is unlikely. However, it is hoped that those of us who view the film will not be so quick to judge after seeing the “facts” in our own situations. To convict the young man based on their prejudices, emotions, or apathy would have been a travesty of justice. But, with group observation, discussion, and logical reasoning, (even if forced by conflict), we can all make better decisions.
12 Angry Men Analysis – 2
Nobody could forecast that a low budget movie with 12 different actors performing in one single room could affect in such a remarkable degree several sciences like law, business, psychology etc. The movie, based on the scenario that a 12 member jury group is about to decide through a certain procedure if a young boy is going to face the death penalty or not, can be linked with many theories referring to leadership or group/team work. Influenced by the Group Effectiveness Model of Schwarz (2002), the structure of the group along with the context and the process are vital for its effectiveness (Eirini Flouri & Yiannis Fitsakis 2007).
In the first part of the film when the stage of forming, as it is claimed by the Tuckman’s Team Model, occurs, we notice the main characteristics of this group(David A. Buchanan & Andrej Huczynski, 2010). The group consists of 12 male middle aged white men probably coming from the middle class. Even from this first impression, admiring the effort of the film to achieve diversity, signs of prejudice appear. Specifically, the fact that all of them are men and moreover white men represents main biases of that period.
Additionally, as it is mentioned to Sheldon’s Theory about the biases, the somatotype of each person declares in a certain way its character and this can be noticed by the selection of the characters and their match with the roles (Big guy is the tough one, smaller and thinner is the most innocuous, the handsome is the sensible and sensitive one etc. ) (David A. Buchanan & Andrej Huczynski, 2010). Despite the fact that the movie is trying to accuse such biases (which will be underlined later) certain ways of projection of that period could not be avoided.
This is one of the reasons why in the remake of the film in 1997 black actors participated as well and later there even women were introduced in the team for certain theatrical versions. (Eirini Flouri & Yiannis Fitsakis 2007). The existence of a “one-off” situation like this in the movie leaves space for less inhibition for conflicts. Moreover, specific factors like the size, the external-internal environment and the definition of the process play a crucial role in the structure of the group.
Obviously, the size of this group is 12, but the question is: why so many? The reason is that by having a greater number of juries the system of justice achieves higher levels of democracy with less possibilities of getting unfair decisions combining the memory, the knowledge and the experience of each member and eliminates any prejudiced behaviors. On the other hand as Social Impact Theory mentions the more members there are, the less responsibility they feel (Latane and Nida, 1980).
In the external environment we could enclose the time of the procedure, which is unlimited at first but with a deadline coming up afterwards, and the conditions of the place of action, which is characterized by the humidity and the high summer temperatures, the broken air-conditioning, the unavailability of space. Such details could become the cause of stress, aggressiveness and as it was shown desire for fast result (just finish the procedure). In the internal environment issues like experience of previous similar situations, cultures, personalities, knowledge, mood, health, personal schedule and specialization could affect the result.
Ending, a matter of significant importance is the definition of the procedure. In this case, we observe that after the release of the 2 alternatives there are 12 juries left. The juries have to decide if the boy is guilty or not guilty but there must be a full agreement (12 to 0) in each case; A democratic method which proves the importance of the situation. Alternatively, if they cannot reach an agreement they can decide a hung jury and then another trial will take place with different juries this time.
The role of the foreman is usually for the most experienced person in this field or the first jury or for anyone who claims the desire and gets accepted by all. In the movie, juror1 supports this role setting the basic norms of the procedure. It is worth mentioning that nowadays, in the selection of the juries there is a specific procedure that is called “Voir Dire” procedure that clarifies the capability of the juries (Michael T. Nietzelt and Ronald C. Dillehayt 1982). Undoubtedly, the conviction of the biases of any kind is one of the main objects of this film. Primarily, in the first scheme, the judge seems really ninterested about the outcome and he seems to be sure about the result. The Halo Effect is “a judgment based on a single striking characteristic” and is being remarked in many cases during the film (Edward Thorndike, 1920). Moving to the main part of the film and the central procedure we can emphasize on the juror3 and juror10 who are the main representatives of such prejudiced behaviors. Both of them were trying to fill the gaps of their knowledge using selective attention in certain facts and their personal experience (“Principle of closure” by Max Wertheimer 1880-1943).
Everyone has his stereotypes and if we imagine stereotypes as pictures in our head, jurors 3 and 10 have the image of a dangerous criminal for the defendant, raised to act in certain ways (Lippmann, 1922). More specifically, juror3 expresses, from his first lines in the film, his perception against the young boy (“I ‘d slap those kids before…”). But as the movie goes on, he expresses again and again his personal beliefs connecting them with his personal disappointment from his own son (“ it’s these kids they are these day”, “I used to call my father Sir”).
Even more he presents his cultural stereotype against the elderly (“How could he be positive about anything? ”) Eventually, juror3 stands alone with his perceptions, believing in the boy’s guiltiness and through a psychological outburst admits that all his statements were based on biases. Similarly, juror10 uses his own belief to create his racial prejudice against the defendant (“I‘ve expected that”, “You know what we are dealing with…”) as well as his past experiences (“I’ve lived with them… they are born liars”).
Adding to this, juror10 weights the value of the young boy less than the cost of a trial. Finally, his “explosion” made the apocalypse of his real personality and the group’s mechanism accused his behavior through a visual isolation and oral prohibition. The existence of biases in each group can create an unpleasant internal environment for each member and be the reason of conflicts. The productivity or the effectiveness of the group is in danger if such behaviors are being tolerated. Apart from the complexity which is created there is also a matter of fairness of the group’s function.
As the movie flows, the influence of the group to each individual separately is obvious but a vice versa phenomenon is noticed as well. In this part, the different roles of the jurors and their influence on each other through the communication style of all-channel are being presented, as well as with some strategies followed by the leader-juror8. One thing that is common for most of the jurors is that they have common BATNA(Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) and this is the hung jury.
However, this is not the case for jury8 claims that his only purpose is the delivery of the justice (Fisher and Uri, 1981). Starting with juror1 we can notice signs of leadership in the early beginning but he ends up being more like a manager, organizing the procedure. Excluding the moment he reaches his breaking point and suggests if anyone would like to take his place, juror1is the one who sets up the norms, accepts propositions, guides the conversation and the voting procedure, avoids conflicts and respects privileges keeping a democratic way of thinking.
Being the foreman can be characterized as the “co-ordinator” (Beldin’s Team Role Theory 1996, 2007). Many of the jurors (2, 5, 6, 7, 11, and 12) seem to have low self-esteem not only because of their character but also because of the number of the team that forces them to get lost in the crowd or just finish the procedure and leave (“I just think he is guilty”, “Can I pass? ”, etc) This is obvious from the first vote where only 5 of the 11 votes come directly and the rest are raised slowly just to avoid being pointed out.
They are becoming followers(2, 5, 6 and 11) or entertainers (7) or just dreamers (12). Of course most of them are open to hear more and accept different opinions (2, 5, and 7). The rest just do not care so much about the result and these “free riders”, as Frohlich and Oppenheimer called them in 1970, are the proof that social loafing (or Ringelmann Effect) is a common phenomenon in big teams. The role of juror9 has a vital meaning for the outcome because he takes part in all the breaking points of the process.
Firstly, he is the first supporter of juror8, secondly it is him who explains the old witness’s psychology (“Attention”) and lastly he is the fire starter for the fall of the woman’s testimony. The main opponents to the boy’s exoneration are jurors 3, 4 and 10. As was mentioned previously jurors 3 and 10 are mostly based on biases and stereotypes for children from slums. They are all concentrated on general facts and obvious details. The extensive use of loud voice is frequently the main argument of jurors 3 and 10, which could never strengthen their position.
Alternatively, juror4 is using his logic and cleverness to support his facts and admits his fault proving his maturity, once he is convinced. Focusing on juror8 we can claim that he owns the position of the leader as his bargaining power is unique. Max Weber (1947) claimed that “bargaining power is the ability someone has to achieve his goals no matter of the resistance he faces”. Juror8 follows a series of strategies in order to be flexible and adapt to the needs of each occasion. In the beginning, as it is shown from Jo-Hari’s Window, everyone has a bigger unknown-black side, so juror8 wants to get information as an input.
Eventually, he adopts the strategy of a listener in order to get knowledge from the others without revealing himself. Afterwards, in the first vote he stays neutral mentioning his points aiming to make some of the rest see the facts from a different angle avoiding any conflict. The brainstorming procedure just began. In order to wake up their consciousness he uses specific words like “maybe”, “supposing”, “possible” and “assume”. In the main part he listens carefully and argues with all the elements one by one. There is also an extensive use of rhetorical questions and irony just to make his point clear.
The first action scheme is when he places the similar knife on the table. The leader breaks the law in order to prove his point. He becomes more active for the first time and gets the whole team upset. Eventually, he creates the first doubts. At this specific time he calls for a new vote. Apparently, the timing is not random. Probably he recognizes some voices like his and decides that it is time to set up a coalition strategy. He needs just one vote which will strengthen amazingly his arguments and he gets it.
The fact that he uses his emotional intelligence to point out his views, while he realizes that some other jurors are playing, proves once again his leading abilities. The next step is to create personal relations with some of the jurors. So, he finds the weakest of the group who are about to change side and ask for their opinions. It is not by accident that these jurors were mainly followers until this time. Having established these connections, he uses logic and science as well as the experience and the knowledge of the group in order to persuade the others.
As soon as he realizes that one of his main opponents (juror3) loses his self-control, juror8 becomes aggressive and pushes him to the limits using the technique of the irony to apocalypse the existence of his personal prejudice against the defendant. After completing his task, he shows his sympathetic character and supports the worried opponent. Based on Moscovici (1976) and his 5 Aspects juror8 is loyal to his beliefs(Consistency), responsible for his acts(Autonomy), flexible whenever it is appropriate(Rigidity), risky in the first secret vote(Investment) and willing to bring justice(Fairness).
The impact of this movie in our modern times is initially proved by the fact that after so many years it is still being taught in courses not only in Law schools but also in Business and Psychology schools. Definitions like brainstorming, social loafing, diversity, team-working, biases and preconceptions, attribution, personality, leader’s abilities, democratic voting and many others are part of any organization nowadays. This movie is the omen for the evolutionary development of a team structure, a team-worker’s behavior and a leader’s characteristics. References Atkinson G. 1990 “Negotiate the best deal” Director Books, Cambridge Barkan, Steven E. , & Steven Cohn, 1994, ‘‘Racial Prejudice and Support for the Death Penalty by Whites’’ in “Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency” pp. 202–209 Buchanan A. David & Huczynski A. Andrej, 2010, “Organizational Behaviour”, seventh edition, Pearson Education Limited, Harlow Cialdini R. B. , 1993 “The psychology of persuasion”, Quill William Morrow, New York Ellsworth C. Phoebe, 1989, “Are Twelve Heads Better Than One? ” in “Law and Contemporary Problems”, Duke University School of Law Fisher R. & Ury W. 1981 “Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without gining in” Penguin, New York Flouri Eirini & Fitsakis Yiannis, Oct 2007, “Minority Matters: 12 Angry Men as a Case study of a successful Negotiation against the odds” in “Negotitation Journal” pp. 449-461 Hackley Susan, 2007 “One Reasonable and Inquiring Man:12 Angry Men as a Negotiation-Teaching Tool” in “Negotiation Journal” pp. 463-468 Hall & M. Eisenstein (Eds. ), 1980, “Voir Dire and jury selection”, Clark. B. M. , in “Criminal Defense Techniques”, New York: Mathew Bender Hay B. L. 2007 “Fiftieth anniversary 12 Angry Men” Kent-Law Review 82(3) Chicago Heuer L. Penrodt St. , Sep. 1988, “Increasing Jurors’ Participation in Trials A Field Experiment with Jury Notetaking and Question Asking” in “Law and Human Behaviour” Vol. 12 No. 3 Janis I. , 1972 “Victims of groupthink” MA: Houghton Mifflin, Oxford Kaplan M. , Jones & Christopher S. , 2003 “The Effects of Racially Stereotypical Crimes on Juror Decision-Making and Information –Processing Strategies” in “Basic and Applied Social Psychology” pp. 1-13 Kew J. & Stredwick J. , 2010, “Human Resource Management in a business context”, CIPD, London Martin R. , 1992 “Bargaining Power” Clarendon Press, Oxford
Moscovici S. , 1976 “Social influence and social change” Academic, London Nietzelt T. Michael & Dillehayt C. Ronald, 1982, “The Effects of Variations in Voir Dire Procedures in Capital Murder Trials”, in “Law and Human Behaviour” Vol. 6 No. 1 Rojot J. , 1991 “Negotiatation: From theory to practice” Macmillan, London Scheepers, Daan, et al, 2006, ‘‘Diversity in In-Group Bias: Structural Factors, Situational Features, and Social Functions,’’ in “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” pp. 944–960 Weber M. , 1947 The theory of social and economic organization” Oxford University Press, New York
12 Angry Men- Group Analysis with Comparisons to Business
Paper 2 Group Dynamics is clearly one of the key elements in ’12 Angry Men’, seeing that the entire movie is based on group decision making. In order for decisions to be made within a team, the members must communicate with each other and successfully work together. The realities of work are an obvious theme from the very beginning. Conflict between team members is an important factor to the plot of the movie as discussions and arguments take place over the jury’s decision.
The fact that one man’s beliefs affect the decision of the entire group leads to stress and anger among his fellow members, something extremely common in the business world. In order for a group to be professionally formed, it must go through a number of stages. These can be related to Tuckman and Jensons 5 stage model on group development. This is based on 5 key stages, forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. In the forming stage, concerns and a desire for structure take over.
This was present as they entered the jury room, a group of individuals with personal opinions and ideas as to what happened as opposed to an already functional group. One jury member appears to take charge as a chairperson to the others, providing leadership and ideas as to how they should proceed. Clearly all the members were not yet comfortable enough to voice their opinions at this stage and initiative was necessary from someone in order for the group to proceed.
The storming process took place as the jury members quarrelled and argued over each other’s votes and opinions. They were each allowed to be heard, thus allowing them to gain perspective on other people’s ideas and voicing concerns over these. No group works successfully from the very beginning. The storming process is important as roles within the groups are defined and members can begin to give ideas as to how to proceed, or in the case of the jury, ideas as to what happened. In the norming stage, the group has become effective.
Members are now working together towards the ultimate goal. Although conflicts are still occurring, and sides are taken, the team is ultimately working as one group. This was evident throughout the movie, although not as clearly as would be seen in a business type working environment. Because of the strong opposing opinions of both sides, (Guilty and Not Guilty) more conflict than teamwork was visible. However this conflict was ultimately the foundation of teamwork within that particular group.
By arguing and voicing opinions, people were influenced to change their ideas and expand on any existing ideas, similar to a product development process. As more previously unrecognised details of the case were unfolded by the original juror to vote not guilty, more of the jury begin to change their votes, thus allowing a previously condemned idea to expand. Comparisons could be made to brainstorming, where one person’s idea can be built on by another.
Analysis of Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose
Imagine having to decide a young boy’s fate who is accused of murder in the first degree. This is the case in “Twelve Angry Men”, the prize-winning drama written by Reginald Rose. Some jurors address relevant topics, while others permit their personal “judgments” from thoroughly looking at the case. After hours of deliberation, the jurors reached the decision that the boy is not guilty, due to the fact of reasonable doubt. While few jurors are motivated by their respect and determination for the justice system, Juror 10 is motivated by his personal prejudice.
Juror 10 is clearly motivated by his prejudice. He uses his intolerance to determine his vote for the accused defendant. For instance, in the beginning of Act I, Juror 10 haphazardly said, “ Look at the kind of people they are, you know them,” (13) without even digging deep into the case. It is quite obvious that Juror 10 is generating an “opinion” of the defendant based on the color of his skin and his background. He does not refer to them as regular people, but as “they” and “them” on certain pages.
In the courtroom though, no juror is to have any judgments, they are supposed to bring the facts to the table, not their opinions. Juror 10’s outlook of the defendant is blinding him from thinking of any reasonable doubt. Further more, when Juror 10 said, “…I lived among em’ all my life, you can’t believe a word they say. You know that,” he yet again was referring to the defendant’s people as “em” and “they”. You can clearly infer that while Juror 10 was living amongst them, he must have experienced or witnessed situations which has caused him to have judgments on these specific people.
These same judgments he brings to the courtroom just add difficulty into solving the case. Following Juror 10’s views further, when Juror 5 was explaining how the person who did stab the father was un-experienced, but the defendant was indeed experienced and Juror 3 stated he didn’t believe it, Juror 10 responded with, “Neither do I. You’re giving us a lot of mumbo-jumbo. ” (56) His racist views of the one accused once again got in the way and made him think differently on what Juror 3 had said. Juror 10 didn’t even bother thinking the idea through!
A reasonable person would have at least deliberated instead of just shutting down the thought completely. In addition to that thought, as the other jurors are realizing that there is reasonable doubt and changing their votes from guilty to not guilty, Juror 10’s temper begins to rise. His reaction to the other jurors for not agreeing with his opinion results to him throwing a rampage. He ends up screaming at the top of his lungs and thinking of everything he can possibly say to make the rest of the jurors side with him. But the only response he receives from the jurors is as they turn away from him in disgust.
After Juror 10 gets his racist opinions across, he realizes he simply cannot win this fight. His judgmental views of the defendant blocked any potential thought Juror 10 would have had if he went in to the courtroom with an open mind. Juror 10 stands out to the reader for his extreme prejudice look at the defendant and his culture. With out giving the case a glance, he already created an unchangeable opinion. From his view, Juror 10 doesn’t think of “them” as regular people, but as these animals who get away with every crime they commit.
Also his extremely prejudiced opinions made him resistant from “separating the facts from the fancy. ” One of the largest issues in our justice system is when jurors already have generated an opinion on the defendant, where as Juror 10 clearly did, which then causes the final vote to be affected. All in all, if the members of the court went into the jury room with an open mind we would most likely have more proved innocent cases in today’s society. It has been at least 60 years since the drama “Twelve Angry Men” was written. And even today, do we really believe all men and women were created equal?
Reaction 12 Angry Men
12 Angry Men: Reaction Paper The film 12 Angry Men gives an inside look at the inner workings of a jury deliberation as twelve random strangers are called to do their civil duty. In a group of diverse people from different backgrounds, Henry Fonda’s character attempts to convince the rest of his fellow jurors not to easily convict a troubled young man just because it would be the simple solution to all of their problems. The jurors are placed in extreme circumstances in which heat and angst drive them to push for a guilty verdict, despite the clear evidence of reasonable doubt presented through the trials facts.
In the end, Henry Fonda’s character gets the other jurors to realize that all of the evidence is circumstantial and they present a not guilty verdict to the judge. This film presents a situation in which it becomes clear that previous prejudices can influence the verdict that certain jurors hand down. It is difficult for people to become unbiased, even in cases that require them to be. The backgrounds of the various jurors came to light throughout their deliberations. The one juror that took the most convincing was one that was carrying emotional baggage involving his own tumultuous relationship with his estranged son.
Another juror clearly looked down on the defendant’s impoverished background. One man could care less about the situation and just wanted to make a baseball game that night. The jurors had their reasons for voting the ways that they did, but this proves that everyone has bias based on their backgrounds and past life experiences. The only way that someone can form an opinion is because they have a moral compass that guides them as to what they accept to be right and wrong. This is what drives a person’s beliefs, and this is what influences them the most if they are placed on a jury.
The deliberation room also caused an uncomfortable situation for the jurors. Most people dread the day that they will be called upon to serve on a jury. It seems like a tedious job that takes away from the important things in their personal lives. The extreme heat in the room, plus the eventual rain just heightened the tension, and may have caused the jurors to argue with one another. Most of the jurors just wanted to get out of there, but they were reminded that there was a person’s life at stake and they could not take that responsibility lightly. This is an important point o remember because most people do not care one way or another whether a person they do not know goes to jail or not. This is why everyone should take their civil duties seriously. The jurors treated the defendant as if he was the one who had to prove his innocence, as opposed to the commonly held notion of the prosecution being given the burden of proof. Everything in the case was his fault. Because the knife was unusual, he had to have been the one to stab his father. Because the lady said she saw him killing someone, then she must have been telling the truth.
To the jurors who presented a vote for guilt, all of the evidence was clear and they had no doubt that the man was guilty. Henry Fonda’s character presents to his peers that the defendant did not even have to open his mouth. He should not have to prove his innocence, it is implied in the Constitution. This helps show why evidence gathering is so important to cases. If evidence is gathered properly, then bias can show through in police work. The jurors assumed that the cops were diligent with their investigation, so the defendant must be guilty because the cops would not have arrested him if he were not.
The bias of the jurors in favor of law enforcement officers persuaded them to vote for a conviction while deliberating. The jurors also were presented with evidence that was circumstantial at best. Henry Fonda’s character attempts to prove that the facts of the case do not add up. Everything that the prosecution had laid out before them was based on multiple assumptions. They assumed that the lady across the street could see through a passing train. They assumed that the old man could walk to his front door in 15 seconds.
They assumed that the boy would stab his father downward in the chest. All of these assumptions would lead anyone to believe that the young man was guilty, but when taken as parts of a whole, the case starts to break down. The lady could not have seen the boy through the train from 60 feet away at night if she wore glasses. The old man could not get up from his bed and make it to his door if he was walking with a limp. The defendant could not have stabbed his father downward because his instincts with a switchblade would have told him to stab forward, not down.
It is surprising how poorly the case was thrown together, yet random strangers were so convinced that they were right to want to convict a seemingly troubled young man based on simple assumptions. Henry Fonda’s character was not trying to prove that the young man was innocent. He was trying to prove that there was reasonable doubt in the case. In the beginning of the votes, he insisted that he voted not guilty because he believed that the boy deserved better than a five-minute deliberation when a life is at stake. It is hard for common people to place themselves in others’ shoes because most people do not see themselves as criminals.
Anyone who has a previous history of delinquency is automatically assumed to be a repeat offender when it comes to crime. The beauty of the U. S. criminal justice system is the fact that innocence does not have to be proven. Everyone is assumed to be innocent, but this is hard for jurors to contemplate when they have been presented with what they believe to be facts by the prosecution. The bias of the various jurors was apparent throughout the deliberation. Only when the rest of the men refused to entertain foolishness did one juror give up his prejudice rant against people from the slums of town.
No matter how much a jury is supposed to be fair, everyone will have bias in their decisions because decisions are based on past experiences of others. The criminal justice system is not perfect, but it attempts to be fair to those who cannot defend themselves. This film shows a positive point of the trial system. One person stands up for the defendant and tries to prove that his life is worth at least a second look. This is why most people would rather have a jury of their peers determining their fate, as opposed to a single judge and executioner.